The winner of the second annual MIPDOC Co-production Challenge was Brighton-based Seventh Art Productions and its film Music Academy Angola. Associate producer Leigh Gibson pitched the film to a panel of four broadcasters – Maurice Paleau (NFB), Adrian Wills (UKTV), Hélène Coldefy (ARTE) and Kristina Hollstein (ZDF) – as well as moderator Gary Lico, CEO of distributor Cable Ready. The 74-minute project demonstrates how a music school in Angola’s capital is managing to bring some small solace to a country that has suffered 27 years of continuous war.
The academy is Angola’s only school for the performing arts. It survives on funds from the government, the church and the German embassy (which houses it). Since its founding in 2002, students have sacrificed and struggled to attend classes, hoping that music will offer them succor from their surroundings. The filmmakers plan to follow five of the academy’s 150 students from the beginning of the school year to the end-of-term show.
Though it’s not a main focus of the film, the special will also delve into the students’ family histories, demonstrating how a war that has already swallowed generations continues to impact daily life. (As Gibson noted during her pitch, the film is about human resilience, though Angola’s history will come out through its characters.)
Music Academy Angola is headed by Seventh Art director/producer Phil Grabsky (The Boy who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan), and has already attracted the participation of Channel 4, media and The Department for International Development, a UK government body responsible for promoting development and the reduction of poverty. With a projected end-of-year wrap, the film is hunting for about half of its US$500,000 budget.
The Co-production Challenge is cosponsored by realscreen, the NFB and Reed Midem. Winners receive a prize package that includes €2,000 (US$2,500) in prize money, as well as passes to next year’s Realscreen Summit and mipdoc market.